Up until now, Arrow's action has been solely set in Starling City, but tonight's all-new episode offers up a location -- and language -- change as Oliver, Diggle and Felicity are tasked with rescuing Lyla from Russian criminals (she'd tracked Deadshot to Moscow) and keeping this information from Isabel, who insists on joining Queen Consolidated's business trip.
By putting Deadshot back in Diggle's crosshairs, Arrow allows David Ramsey to expand upon his character's backstory and reveal some heretofore unknown secrets he's been holding close to the chest. ETonline spoke with Ramsey earlier this week about tonight's action-packed episode, the expansion of Team Arrow and the odds of illuminating other characters' backstories through flashbacks!
ETonline: Stephen Amell Tweeted that you steal the show in tonight's episode.
David Ramsey: Oh boy, thanks Stephen! Live up to that [laughs].
ETonline: Well, it makes sense given the return of Deadshot? What was your first reaction to finding out Diggle would finally get this long-awaited showdown?
Ramsey: About time! Finally! We worked very hard on building the angst and we finally get a payoff. I think the writers really did it justice; they plotted it in such a way you saw who John Diggle was. I'm also excited that in tonight's episode, we change locales. It's the first time we go to a new city and production-wise, I think that's good for the show. Any time you can keep the heart and the tone of the show while completely changing the look, it credits the strong writing.
ETonline: What excites you about the team going to "Russia?"
Ramsey: Right, Russia ... a.k.a Vancouver [laughs]. First of all, like every script we look at, our jaws dropped with this one, but we were doubly excited to go to Russia -- and how the team gets to Russia is exciting. When you leave Starling City there are certain things that get compromised. For example, how does Oliver Queen become Arrow there? How does he not reveal who he is there while helping with the overall mission? If he's caught in Russia, of all places, what happens? All these ideas made us salivate. This is a real risk for the team and the audience will feel that. But the team comes out of this trip in a whole new place, you see the bond between these three really strengthen. The team and the bromance between Oliver and Diggle are two of the strongest elements of the whole series, I think, and there's great moments for both tonight.
ETonline: And how much comedy does the show mine from having Isabel insist on joining this "business trip?"
Ramsey: The comedy is so built in, they don't need to write a joke-per-page. She's a thorn in Team Arrow's side and her being in Russia totally complicates things for Oliver and Diggle, who have become single-minded about the mission. Isabel completely throws that on its head.
ETonline: What does the re-introduction of Deadshot mean for Diggle?
Ramsey: They're going to get the backstory of Diggle, which is what some fans have been waiting for. Diggle reveals that Oliver's not the only one with secrets and I think that ultimately helps the story arc of both characters. Both of these men have tremendous problems forming attachments, and through their relationship with one another, they reveal themselves, piece by piece, to one another. It looks like Diggle is an open book, but we find things out about him that we did not know before.
ETonline: I know this is more of a writers question, but have there been discussions about showing flashbacks for other characters?
Ramsey: We've talked, at great lengths, about the idea of going to Afghanistan and seeing Diggle’s relationship with A.R.G.U.S.; how he's tied into it and what he knows about it. All that stuff has been thrown across the table. And you're right, it is more of a writers question, but I can tell you, as an actor, we have had some of those discussion. Obviously, we're planning for a long haul with this series, knock on wood, so if the show goes nearly as long as we hope, I would say that Afghanistan and other parts of all the characters' past are on the table.
ETonline: As the show grows, so does Team Arrow. What's your feeling about how big that group could and should get?
Ramsey: As an actor, the larger the team gets, the more you wonder "Who is going to die?" [laughs] It reminds me of when I was on Dexter, always reading the last page of every script and wondering, "Is this my day to die?" I think every actor on this show, except for Stephen, has that in the back of their mind. But I think Diggle resonates with the audience at large, and that's why the fans demanded he become a comic book character. He's the guy that went to school, got educated, wanted to be a soldier and went into he army; this is an accessible character. You can become Diggle. You can be honorable. Whereas, this burden was thrust upon Oliver. He was compelled to become Arrow because of circumstances, so, in that sense, it's harder to reach him. He has an obstacle to overcome in order to become accessible to the audience. But to Stephen and the writers great credit, he has become accessible -- but Diggle had that built in. He's like Little John in the Robin Hood lore. He has an automatic accessibility to us because we can identify with wanting to be a protector and wanting to be honorable by being a good person. That's what John Diggle has and what he brings to the team, which is invaluable -- and one I can only hope, as the team gets bigger, we don't lose.
ETonline: Looking ahead, what are you excited for the audience to see?
Ramsey: A lot of things. First, the action. We're an action show and I don't feel we get enough credit for being the best action show on TV. The production value of the fight scenes are incredible. Then, the larger answer to that is the formation of the hero. The Vigilante becoming Arrow becoming Green Arrow is the overall arc of the season, and, ultimately, the show. I'm excited to be a part of that because how we facilitate that growth for the hero is a compelling story. On a more selfish note, I love Diggle in the field, I love action for Diggle, so the fact tonight is a big action story for him is great because he's a soldier who likes doing recon in the field. I hope to see more of that. I also hope to see more of their bromance. I think that's one of the strongest parts of the show, so any time Oliver and Diggle get to bond, I have a little soft tear coming out of my eye. It's a manly tear, but a tear nonetheless.